No Luck For Manning In Return To Indy
By Daniel Calzone
It was when Peyton Manning was tossing the ball on the sideline during his pregame routine that the crowd began to erupt, honoring the man they cheered for and adored for 14 seasons. A teary eyed Manning removed his helmet and thanked the crowd by patting his chest and mouthing the words “Thank you very much.” After the cheers subsided, there was a football game to be played.
Both teams went 3-and-out on their first drive of the game. Then Peyton did what Peyton does, easily marching down the field for a 2-play TD scoring drive to make it 7-0. The Colts would counter with a field goal soon after to make it 7-3.
On a punt return late in the first, Denver return man Holliday lost the ball on a fumble near the sideline and the Colts scooped it and scored. The play was blown dead, and called as the runner being out of bounds before he fumbled. Coach Pagano threw the red flag and the play would ultimately be overturned. The TD would not stand, but the Colts would start their drive inside the 15-yard line. On the first play of the drive Heyward-Bay scooped through the backfield, only to reverse direction and catch a sweep pass off play action for an easy TD. 10-7 Colts.
Holiday then took the ensuing kickoff for 56 yards only to get leveled by the kicker McAfee in what had to be the biggest hit I have ever seen from a kicker.
TD machine Julius Thomas caught his eighth TD at the start of the second to make it 14-10 Broncos. The Broncos quickly got the ball back but started the drive very deep in their own territory. On third-and-seven the Colts would get to Manning and cause him to fumble the ball before getting his arm forward to make a legal pass. The ball flew into the Colts end zone and was recovered out of bounds for a safety. Robert Mathis tied Jason Taylor for most strip sacks with his 39th in his career on the play. 14-12 Broncos.
Luck then hit Havilli in the flat for a 20 yard TD pass to round out a 66 yard scoring drive. 19-14 Colts. Denver fans were cringing as they watched Champ Bailey limp off the field with an apparent leg injury late in the half. In what seemed to be poor clock management by the Broncos they left over a minute for the Colts to score. Luck marched right down the field on 6 of 6 passing capping the drive of with a score to former Stanford teammate Fleener. 26-14 Colts. Halftime.
The third quarter began with a few punts before midway through Luck scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown. 33-14 Colts.
The Colts hit a pair of field goals in the fourth to help ice the game. The Broncos would battle their way back, but still fall short to Indy 33-39. The only downside is that Reggie Wayne left the game after spraining his knee. The severity of the injury is unknown at this point, but more information should surface as the week draws on. Wayne did not return. Prater made a field goal with a little over a minute left to make it 33-39, but Denver would fail to recover the onside kick. Andrew Luck then kneeled the ball to ice Indy’s big upset win over the Denver Broncos.
Peyton’s homecoming was spoiled by a very game Andrew Luck, who scored 4 total TD en route to the 6-point victory. The Broncos defense had trouble making big-time stops, and almost every bounce seemed to go the Colts way in this one. (Once again, I told you the Broncos could easily lose this game.) Peyton Manning got a real good look at just how good the kid who replaced him Andrew Luck actually is. It’s back to the drawing board for Manning and the Broncos, who now find themselves in second place in the AFC West behind the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
A few game notes:
Von Miller had 2 tackles and no sacks in his return from suspension
Champ Bailey and Reggie Wayne left the game with injury
Eric Decker had 150 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Donald Brown had 11 carries to Trent Richardson’s 14. Both averaged less than 3 yards per carry.
Peyton Manning – 386 yds, 3 TD, INT, Quarterback Rating 96.1.